It has been a good road trip as the Kraken have taken care of business with five out of six points in the standings so far, including a dominant performance in Nashville Saturday. That 7-2 win created even more space between the Kraken and Predators in the standings. The win over Nashville might have been the most convincing win of the trip, but I feel the Dallas win to kick things off was the most impressive.
The Dallas game
Just over a week prior to the Tuesday night Dallas game, the Stars dominated the Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena in a 5-2 win. Philipp Grubauer left that game with an illness and was replaced by Martin Jones. It was one of those “bottom of the rollercoaster” moments that had me skip a breath when I looked at the standings. When the boys rolled into Dallas, I was more than a little nervous.
Adding more fuel to my nervousness, we found out Joey Daccord would be getting the start in net instead of Jones, as Grubauer was still recovering from his illness. That game also featured another late six-on-five goal against the Kraken, this one coming with just 0.7 left in regulation, forcing overtime for the Stars. It had all the makings of another squandered opportunity for a Kraken win. To the boys’ credit, they were able to bounce back with a silky overtime victory on a stretch pass to Adam Larsson. That’s right, a stretch pass to Adam Larsson.
Mathematically, the Nashville Predators appeared to be the biggest threat to the Kraken’s playoff chances. But realistically, the Preds are cooked, which is why I do not think Saturday’s 7-2 beat down was as impressive as the Dallas game. The Predators were missing Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg, not to mention they traded away Mattias Ekholm and Tanner Jeannot at the trade deadline. Seattle should have expected to take at least three out of four points in Nashville, and they took care of business there.
Leading or trailing
The Kraken have scored the first goal in each of the last three games, and they have five out of six points in those games. The prior five games, the first goal of the game was scored by the opponent, and they were just 1-3-1 in those contests. In his post-game press conference after last Saturday’s Edmonton game, coach Dave Hakstol alluded to the fact that it is hard to play from behind in this league.
This is obviously an oversimplification and is more of a symptom than a cause. It is something to keep an eye on in future games.
Other Kraken musings:
- Since January, the math to get into the playoffs has always been on the Kraken’s side, but I will not sleep easy until they clinch. That said, I did sleep a little easier on Saturday night.
- The Kraken scored seven goals against Predators goaltender Juuse Saros on Saturday. This is the first time in his career he has allowed seven goals in a game.
- Morgan Geekie moved to wing versus Nashville on Saturday. He seemed to fit in well with Jaden Schwartz and Alex Wennberg, but this is still a placeholder for when Andre Burakovsky comes back.
- Even though Geekie plays limited minutes when centering the fourth line, he is an important center to have in the lineup. He leads the team in face-off percentage since Jan. 1 and is the only right-handed center on the Kraken’s roster.
- The Kraken have not trailed in the last three games.
- Joey Daccord has done everything the Kraken organization has asked of him since they selected him from Ottawa in the Expansion Draft. He deserved the opportunity in Dallas, and it was nice to see him get a second start and put in another solid performance in the first Nashville game.
- I was lucky enough to make the trip to watch both Nashville games in person this week. I have been to Nashville several times and have thoroughly enjoyed it every time. If you are a hockey fan, put Nashville on your list to catch a game someday; you will not regret it.
- There can be a case made for Jared McCann being the most underrated player in the league right now. He notched his 35th goal of the season Saturday and has 16 points over 12 games in the month of March. We all know him well, but he just does not get talked about nearly enough, and the coolest thing about it, he does not care. I love seeing his interviews because he seems to only care about winning.
- Daniel Sprong leads the NHL in 5v5 scoring per 60 with 3.36 goals per 60.
- The Kraken have one of the worst differentials between their home and away records, and I have no explanation for it.
Kraken themes for the week ahead
This will not be an easy week for the Kraken. Monday, the Kraken are in Minnesota for a tough matchup against a hot team, and the Los Angeles Kings visit Climate Pledge on Saturday. Both the Wild and the Kings have a lot to play for as far as playoff seeding impacts, and both teams are possible first-round matchups for the Kraken.
On Monday, I want to see how well the Kraken compete against a Wild team playing excellent hockey without its best player in the lineup, Kirill Kaprizov.
The Kraken-Kings game on Saturday should be fun. I feel the Kraken stack up well with the Kings and envision an excellent Stanley Cup Playoff matchup, should those teams square off in rounds one or two. In the second game of the season, the same matchup got a bit nasty. While I am not ready to declare the Kings as the No. 1 rivalry with the Kraken, they are one of the frontrunners. A playoff matchup could cement the rivalry. Saturday night could be a preview of that playoff matchup and could get some of the nastiness we might see in the playoffs.
Sandwiched between the Wild game in Minnesota tonight and the Kings game on Saturday is the Ducks at Climate Pledge on Thursday. There are no automatic wins in hockey, especially this time of year, but it would be nice to see the Kraken take care of business again, facing one of the worst teams in the league.
Player Performance / Stick Taps
- Daniel Sprong (SEA) – Sprong has three goals in the last three games on the alleged fourth line. With 19 goals on the season, he is making a convincing argument to stay in the lineup, even when Burakovsky returns.
- Carson Soucy (SEA) – Soucy had only two assists over the last three games, but I felt he played extremely well in the two games in Nashville, shutting down the Predators and making good decisions with the puck in the Kraken defensive zone.
- Shane Wright (SEA/WIN) – Wright has a nine-game point streak playing for the Windsor Spitfires, with 18 points in that stretch to wrap up the regular season in the OHL. Windsor ended the season as the top seed of the Western Conference and will face the Kitchener Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. That series will kick off Thursday.
Goal of the week
Another Seattle Kraken prospect is having a heck of a season. Fifth-round selection from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Jacob Melanson notched his 50th goal of the season with this snipe.
Melanson has already signed his entry-level contract with the Kraken and will more than likely be playing in Coachella Valley next season.
Chart of the week
The game against the Dallas Stars featured another goal against for the Kraken with the opposing team’s goalie pulled, which caused a bit of a “here-we-go-again” vibe on Twitter. The Kraken ended up winning the game, which seemed to cool the angst, but it made me want to pull the numbers on how common these goals are against the Kraken.
As you can see, the Kraken are one of the worst in the league at a pure volume standpoint of allowing a goal with the opposing goalie pulled. Important to note, though, this stat is not a perfect proxy for really evaluating the Kraken’s play when the opposing team has an extra skater, since it does not provide a rate of allowing goals. The Kraken could be leading more one-goal games, which will cause more opportunity for opposing teams to pull their goalie. To simplify it more, the Kraken could be leading in the third period more frequently than other teams, and this would be considered a good thing. I might dig into this a bit deeper in a future post to really evaluate the impact here.
Those are your Monday Musings. If there are any questions, thoughts, or areas you want me to explore in future musings, leave a note in the comments section. Thank you reading. Let’s go Kraken!